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Citizenship after Golden Visa: a Guide for Investors

Kenley Henderson - Golden Visa Expert

A Golden Visa is a document that equals a residence permit, permanent residence, or citizenship by investment. Depending on the chosen country, you can either obtain a passport right away under the Golden Visa program or get it by naturalization after holding a Golden Visa as a residence permit.

Usually, it takes from 4 to 6 months to obtain a Golden Visa and become a resident or a citizen of another country,

Ultimately, a Golden Visa is more than just legal documents — it is a key to global mobility and privilege. These coveted permits open up a world of opportunities, making them highly sought after by the affluent.

The Allure of Golden Visas

A Golden Visa is a type of residence permit or visa program offered by some countries to foreign investors and wealthy individuals who make significant financial contributions to the country’s economy. The term "Golden Visa" is derived from the fact that it provides a "golden" opportunity for high-net-worth individuals to gain residency or citizenship rights in the host country.

These visa programs are usually designed to:

  • attract foreign investment,

  • boost the economy,

  • create jobs, and

  • enhance the country’s real estate market.

A Golden Visa’s specific requirements and benefits can vary widely depending on the country offering the program.

To be eligible for a Golden Visa, an individual must invest a certain amount of money in the country through real estate investment, government bonds, business ventures, or other specified investment options. The required investment amount can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the country and its specific program.

In return for their investment, applicants are granted a residence permit or visa, which often comes with various benefits such as the right to live and work in the country, potential access to public services, and sometimes even a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship after a certain period and meeting specific requirements.

Several countries worldwide have implemented Golden Visa programs, and the popularity of these programs has been on the rise in recent years, particularly among wealthy individuals seeking to diversify their residency and citizenship options or expand their international business interests.

7 Benefits of Obtaining Residence by Investment

Obtaining residency by investment offers several benefits to individuals and families seeking a second residency in a foreign country. The specific advantages may vary depending on the country and its program, but some general benefits exist.

1. Global mobility. Many residence by investment programs allow residents to travel visa-free or with simplified visa procedures to multiple countries, which can be valuable for business, leisure, or family reasons.

2. Access to quality education and healthcare. Residency grants access to high-quality education and healthcare systems, often on par with or even better than those available in the investor’s home country.

3. Business opportunities. Investors may gain access to a new market for their business activities, expanding their commercial reach and benefiting from favorable business environments and tax incentives.

Establishing a second residency can also serve as asset diversification, reducing exposure to risks in the investor’s home country.

4. Tax advantages. Some countries offer attractive tax incentives to residents, such as low or zero taxation on foreign income, capital gains, and inheritance. It can be especially appealing to high-net-worth individuals.

5. Generational benefits. Almost all residence by investment programs also allow the investor’s family, including spouse, children, and sometimes even parents, to obtain residency.

6. Future citizenship possibility. In some cases, residence by investment programs can lead to citizenship after a certain residency period, for example, after 5 years.

7. Cultural experience. Living in a foreign country offers the chance to experience new cultures, languages, and ways of life, enriching personal and family experiences.

How to Obtain a Golden Visa

The process of obtaining residency by investment varies significantly depending on the country offering the program. Each country has its own specific requirements and application procedures. However, here is a general step-by-step outline that can give you an idea of the process.

1

Research eligible countries

Start by researching the countries that offer Golden Visa programs and determine which one aligns with your goals and investment capacity. Consider factors such as investment options, residency requirements, benefits, and the potential pathway to citizenship.

2

Choose an investment option

Once you’ve selected a country with a GoldenVisa program, decide on the investment option that suits your needs and financial capabilities. Common investment options include real estate, government bonds, business investments, or job creation in the host country.

3

Gather required documents

These documents may include passport copies, proof of funds, bank statements, background checks, health insurance, and any other documents specific to the chosen investment option.

4

Apply for the Golden Visa

Submit your visa application to the host country’s respective government agency or embassy. Ensure that you comply with all the guidelines and requirements stated in the application process.

5

Await approval and processing

Wait for your application to be processed, which can take several weeks to months, depending on the country. During this period, you may be required to attend interviews or provide additional information if requested.

6

Obtain Golden Visa and residency

If your application is approved, you will receive the Golden Visa, which allows you to reside in the host country for a specified period, usually one to five years or more, depending on the country’s regulations.

7

Comply with a residency by investment requirements

Once you have obtained the Golden Visa, you may need to fulfill specific residency requirements, such as spending a certain number of days per year in the host country or meeting specific integration criteria.

8

Apply for permanent residency or citizenship (if applicable)

After fulfilling the required residency period, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship, depending on the specific program and country’s regulations.

Countries that Have Golden Visa Programs

Several countries around the world have implemented the Golden Visa programs to attract foreign investors and high-net-worth individuals.

Portugal. Investors can obtain residency by making qualifying investments:

  • capital transfer — minimum investment of €1 million in capital transfers to Portugal;

  • job creation — creating a minimum of 10 jobs in Portugal;

  • research — minimum investment of €350,000 in scientific research;

  • cultural рeritage — minimum investment of €250,000 in cultural heritage projects.

Spain. Eligible investment options for Spain Golden Visa include:

  • real estate purchase — minimum investment of €500,000;

  • opening a deposit in a Spanish bank — €1,000,000+;

  • purchase of shares of Spanish companies — €1,000,000+;

  • purchase of units in investment funds — €1,000,000+;

  • investment in Spanish government bonds — €2,000,000+;

  • business investment — there is no established sum.

Greece. Eligible investment options under the Greece Golden Visa program are:

  • a minimum investment of €500,000+ in real estate;

  • renting a hotel or tourist residence for 10 years for €250,000+;

  • purchase of land plot for construction or agriculture — €250,000+;

  • timeshare for 10 years — €250,000+;

  • inheriting real estate or receiving it as a gift — €250,000+;

  • purchase of securities or opening a bank deposit — €400,000+.

Cyprus. Investors can obtain permanent residence by investing €300,000 in real estate, business, government bonds or bank deposits.

Italy. You can obtain an Italian Golden Visa for:

  • an investment in an innovative startup — €250,000+;

  • a business investment — €500,000+;

  • an investment in a philanthropic organization — €1,000,000+;

  • purchase of government bonds — €2,000,000+.

United States. The EB‑5 program allows investors to obtain a green card by investing either $1,050,000+ in a new commercial enterprise or $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area, creating at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying US workers.

Malta. The Malta Permanent Residence Program allows you to obtain permanent residence by buying or renting real estate, paying a state fee and contributing to a non-government philanthropic organization.

If you rent a property, you must hold it for at least 5 years. The minimum annual rent is €12,000 for real estate in Malta and €10,000 for properties in Gozo or the South of Malta.

Alternatively, the applicant can buy a property. The minimum property value is €350,000 for properties in Malta or €300,000 in Gozo or the South of Malta. The property must be held for at least 5 years.

The state fee depends on whether you buy or rent real estate. The sum is €58,000 for renting and €28,000 for purchasing a property.

You must donate €2,000 to a registered Maltese non-governmental organization in both cases.

Comparison of Golden Visa Programs

Country

Minimum investment

Processing time

Cyprus

€300,000

3 months

Greece

€250,000

2—6 months

Italy

€250,000

3+ months

Malta

€150,000

2—4 months

Portugal

€250,000

8—10 months

Spain

€500,000

2—3 months

USA

$870,000

5+ years

Understanding Citizenship by Investment Programs

The concept of citizenship by investment programs, often called Golden Visas or Golden passports, may seem complex at first glance. However, these legal provisions are straightforward mechanisms wealthy individuals use to gain long-term residency or dual citizenship in a foreign country.

They are an exchange: significant financial contributions for calling another nation home. The typical naturalization procedure usually takes about 18 months, providing extensive advantages like enhanced international movement and access to top-notch facilities such as medical care and education.

Citizenship after a Golden Visa

Citizenship by naturalization is a process that allows individuals who have been granted a Golden Visa (or any other type of residence permit) to become full-fledged citizens of the host country eventually.

While Golden Visa programs provide a pathway to residency, they often have specific requirements and timeframes for obtaining permanent residency or citizenship. The process of obtaining citizenship by naturalization after holding a Golden Visa varies from country to country.

Residency requirements. The individual may need to live in the country for a specified period as a permanent resident before becoming eligible for citizenship. This residency period can range from several years to a decade or more, depending on the country.

Language and integration requirements. Some countries may require applicants to demonstrate proficiency in the local language and show evidence of integration into the society, culture, and community.

Financial and tax compliance. Applicants may need to prove their financial stability and adherence to tax regulations during their time as a resident.

Background checks. A thorough background check, including criminal record verification, may be conducted as part of the naturalization process.

Good character and conduct. Applicants are generally expected to demonstrate good character and conduct during their residency.

Renouncing previous citizenship (in some cases). Some countries may require applicants to renounce their previous citizenship as a condition for naturalization.

Countries that Offer Citizenship by Investment Programs

The Antigua and Barbuda program grants citizenship to those who invest in real estate or contribute to the National Development Fund or the University of the West Indies Fund.

The minimum investment sums are:

  • $100,000 — for a non-refundable contribution to the National Development Fund;

  • $200,000 — for the purchase of real estate;

  • $150,000 — for a donation to the University of the West Indies Fund.

St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship can be acquired if you:

  • contribute $250,000+ to the Federal Consolidated Fund under the Sustainable Island State Contribution (SISC) Option;

  • purchase real estate for $400,000+;

  • invest $250,000+ in a project considered an Approved Public Benefit Project.

The Dominica program allows investors to obtain citizenship by making a qualifying investment of $100,000+ in the Economy Diversification Fund or real estate with a minimum value of $200,000.

Grenada citizenship can be obtained by making a qualifying investment of $150,000+ the National Transformation Fund or in government-approved real estate projects with a minimum value of $220,000.

St Lucia. There are four investment options under the St Lucia Citizenship by Investment program:

  • non-refundable contribution to the National Economic Fund — $100,000+;

  • purchase of real estate with a minimum value of $200,000;

  • bond purchase — $300,000+;

  • business investment — $1,000,000+.

Golden Visa to citizenship

With a Caribbean passport, you can enter 140+ countries visa-free

Turkey grants citizenship to those who invest:

  • real estate — $400,000+;

  • business — $500,000+;

  • bank deposit — $500,000+;

  • government bonds — $500,000+;

  • units in an investment fund — $500,000+.

Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program is the fastest in the world. A person can get the country’s passport in 1—2 months for making a non-refundable contribution of $130,000+ or investing $150,000+ in government bonds.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

Country

Minimum investment

Processing time

Antigua and Barbuda

$100,000

4—6 months

Dominica

$100,000

2—6 months

Grenada

$150,000

4—6 months

St Kitts and Nevis

$250,000

6+ months

St Lucia

$100,000

3—4 months

Turkey

$400,000

6—8 months

Vanuatu

$130,000

1—2 months

Citizenship by investment programs often provides substantial financial benefits for applicants and host nations — especially smaller ones like Saint Kitts, where significant monetary investments made into local economies have transformative effects on national income levels.

Beyond direct contributions towards government funds or real estate projects that most schemes require, new citizens bring indirect advantages, too, including increased consumer spending and job creation within host countries' borders.

Key Takeaways

Golden Visa is a document granted to foreigners in exchange for investment. Usually, it equals a residence permit or permanent residency.

Golden Visa doesn’t always lead to citizenship. But its holders can obtain a passport by naturalization after living in a chosen country for several years.

Countries that offer Golden Visa programs are Portugal, Italy, the US, Greece, and Cyprus.

Some countries grant citizenship by investment right away. The list includes some Caribbean countries, Turkey and Vanuatu.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does a Golden Visa Equals Citizenship?

    A Golden Visa is not direct citizenship but a path towards it. It’s typically a residence permit granted in exchange for significant investment in the host country.

  • Which EU Country Has the Cheapest Golden Visa?

    Malta has the cheapest Golden Visa program among all the EU countries. You must invest at least €150,000 to obtain permanent residency by investment.

  • How Much Money Do You Need for a Golden Visa?

    The cost of obtaining a Golden Visa depends on a chosen country and program. For example, you need to invest at least €300,000 to get Cyprus residency by investment.

    The US EB‑5 visa requires an investment of at least $800,000.

  • What Is the Golden Visa for?

    The Golden Visa is a residence permit by investment granted to people contributing to the economy of a specific country.

  • Who Qualifies for a Golden Visa?

    The eligibility criteria for a Golden Visa, also known as a residence by investment program, vary from country to country. Some common eligibility factors include a clean criminal record, proof of sources of funds, health insurance, financial capacity, and contribution to the economy.

    Some programs also have minimum stay requirements.

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